Companies begin looking for document management solutions for many reasons…
They have all kinds of information stored in many places. They could be stored on a company server, a desktop computer or maybe even something like Share Point. Still, it is often difficult if not impossible to find a file.
What we all want is a single version of the truth. It would be great if you could go one place and do a simple query [like a Google search] and quickly get a file. And, wouldn’t it be great to know that you actually have the latest [released] file.
Years ago, we used a vault analogy to discuss document management. When you wanted a document, you went into a vault [a few companies had a real bank vault] to find your file in a file cabinet. You would ‘check out’ the file from a document management person and take it to your desk. While it was checked out, no one else would have access to it. You needed proper access to even enter the vault. How do you control the access when you have it at your desk? Do you have permission to copy the document? Do you have permission to change the document? Do you make sure that you return the document to the vault? If you have changed the document, did you document that change? How is all this managed?
Today’s document management software can provide vault functionality plus more.
This software can reside inside the 4 walls of your company or in a cloud facility. Access to information in the vault is accessible through a web-based user interface or desktop software.
When you check in a file, the software takes into account your access privileges. Upon check in, you are presented with a list of attributes [metadata] that you populate. The attributes are in a relational database and the file is stored in a directory owned by the software. Access is controlled by your identification.
When you wish to find a file, you can search on any of these attributes to quickly find your file. If you don’t have authority to view / check out this file, the software will deny your access. If you have authority, it will let you look at or check out the file.
When you check the file back in, the software will not overwrite a file instead it keeps versions. You can easily see the history of this file. You will know who accessed the file and when they did. Most often, the software can show you what has changed.
If you are interested in moving files through some kind of approval process, then make sure your solution includes some kind of workflow option.
Investigating document management solutions
The first step to arriving at a solution selection is education – you will need to learn more about your requirements and about the potential solutions available to you.
If you are just starting and need some help, contact me.